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2 CONTENTS Contents... 2 Summary... 5 Part A: Introduction Introduction Background Purpose of the Program Report Structure of the Program Report Terminology Program components Classes of actions covered under the Program Protection of matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act... 9 Part B: The Program Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act OPGGS Act object and outline Role of NOPSEMA Environmental management under the OPGGS Act OPGGS (Environment) Regulations environmental management authorisation process Objective-based regulation Key terms and definitions Offshore Project Proposal Offshore Project Proposal submission Offshore Project Proposal content Offshore Project Proposal - public consultation Offshore Project Proposal revision Offshore Project Proposal assessment and acceptance process Environment Plan Environment Plan acceptance requirements Environment Plan contents Review of Environment Plans Page 2

3 5.4 NOPSEMA Environment Plan assessment and decision process Notification of submission and assessment decision NOPSEMA decision Post-acceptance compliance and enforcement Environmental management compliance and enforcement NOPSEMA compliance monitoring of activities NOPSEMA enforcement process NOPSEMA s regulatory policies and guidelines Program commitments PART C: How the Program Considers EPBC Act Part 3 Requirements EPBC Act EPBC Act objects EPBC Act Part 3 protected matters Program implementation and EPBC Act Part Program consideration and management of impacts on EPBC Act Part 3 matters Program implementation and ensuring EPBC Act Part 3 matters protection Policies and guidance Part D: Program Evaluation, Reporting and Monitoring Program evaluation, reporting and monitoring Program evaluation Program reporting Administrative arrangements APPENDIX A Page 3

4 LIST OF TABLES Table 1: NOPSEMA s commitment to protection of EPBC Act Part 3 matters Table 2: Program commitments relating to EPBC Act Part 3 protected matters Table 3: Program commitments relating to administration of the program Table 4: Program consideration and management of impacts on EPBC Act Part 3 matters Table 5: Program Advice documents Table 6: Program implementation measures ensuring EPBC Act Part 3 matters protection LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1: Map of Australia showing the offshore areas covered under the OPGGS Act Figure 2: The OPGGS environmental assessment process Figure 3: The Program s environmental assessment process for Offshore Project Proposals Figure 4: The Program s environmental management assessment process for Environment Plans Page 4

5 SUMMARY The Program The Program is a comprehensive, objective-based and systematic environmental management authorisation, compliance monitoring and enforcement regime made under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (OPGGS Act) and its subordinate Regulations. The Program is administered by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), a Commonwealth Government agency and regulator of environmental management law. The objective of the Program is to ensure all offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas activities are carried out in a manner in which impacts on the environment are reduced to as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP) and of an acceptable level. The program covers Commonwealth waters and designated state and Northern Territory waters where environmental management functions have been conferred under legislation. Impacts on the environment include those matters protected under Part 3 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The Program provides for the protection of the environment by requiring all offshore petroleum or greenhouse gas activities authorised by the OPGGS Act to be conducted in accordance with an accepted Environment Plan consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development. The definition of 'environment' in the Program is consistent with that used in the EPBC Act. This enables the Program to encompass all matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act. The actions covered under the Program include all offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas activities authorised by the OPGGS Act. Protection of the environment through Offshore Project Proposals The Program provides for early consideration of environmental impacts and risks for longer-term, large-scale activities, by requiring proponents to submit an Offshore Project Proposal to NOPSEMA in the early developmental stages of offshore projects. This process allows NOPSEMA to make an assessment of the acceptability of these projects and to provide regulatory acceptance or refusal of project proposals. The Program requires the Offshore Project Proposal to: provide information that identifies and evaluates the potential environmental impacts of the project define environmental performance outcomes that will ensure the impacts and risks arising from the project and its activities will be managed to an acceptable level. The Offshore Project Proposal process has been developed to capture those large-scale offshore projects that may have an unacceptable impact on a matter protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act and the broader environment. The process can be used for all petroleum and greenhouse gas activities and is mandatory for development projects. Titleholders may also elect to prepare and submit an Offshore Project Proposal for a petroleum or greenhouse gas storage activity that is not part of a development project and NOPSEMA guidance outlines circumstances in which this may occur. The guidance directs titleholders to consider the potential impacts on matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act and outlines consultation requirements. The Offshore Project Proposal process includes a mandatory minimum public comment period to provide stakeholders and the community with an opportunity to review and have input into the development of environmental management arrangements for offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas development projects. Page 5

6 Conducting activities in accordance with an Environment Plan The Program requires all titleholders to have an Environment Plan that has been accepted by NOPSEMA for any activity, prior to commencement. Titleholders must carry out activities in accordance with an accepted Environment Plan that ensures environmental impacts and risks of the activity will be reduced to ALARP and will be of an acceptable level. Environment Plans are required to include appropriate environmental performance outcomes, environmental performance standards and measurement criteria, an appropriate implementation strategy, and monitoring, recording and reporting arrangements. The Program sets out how the titleholder must carry out the activity to remain in compliance with the accepted Environment Plan and includes monitoring and enforcement strategies to ensure compliance and for the conduct of investigations. The Program requires the Environment Plan to: provide information relevant to the environmental impacts and risks of the activity address legislative and other controls that manage environmental features of the activity define the environmental performance outcomes and set the environmental performance standards against which performance of the titleholder in protecting the environment is to be measured demonstrate adequate consultation with relevant persons describe the requirements that are relevant to the environmental management of the activity. These requirements allow the Program to consider all relevant legislation, policy and guidance, including those established under the EPBC Act regime. Guidance materials The Program includes a range of guidance materials, which assist with explaining the Program requirements, as updated from time to time. These are available publicly through NOPSEMA s website and help to provide context to the Program. Conclusion As a result of these comprehensive requirements, the Program ensures activities undertaken in accordance with the OPGGS Act environmental management authorisation process will be conducted in a manner consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development and that all potential impacts on matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act and the broader environment will be managed to an acceptable level. Page 6

7 PART A: INTRODUCTION 1 Introduction The Program Report is a submission made under Part 10 Strategic Assessments, Section 146 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The Program Report is for the strategic assessment of the Program, that is, the environmental management authorisation process for offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas activities administered by NOPSEMA. 1 In conjunction with the Strategic Assessment Report (provided separately), this Program Report provides the basis for the Minister for the Environment to consider endorsing the Program under the EPBC Act. The Program is described in Part B and includes the commitments and undertakings by NOPSEMA to ensure the adequate protection of EPBC Act Part 3 protected matters. 1.1 Background Offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas storage activities ( activities ) that have, will have or are likely to have a significant impact on matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act require assessment and approval under the EPBC Act, which is administered by the Commonwealth Department of the Environment (DoE). All activities in Commonwealth waters also require assessment and authorisation under the OPGGS Act and the OPGGS(E) Regulations, which give powers and function to NOPSEMA, including the environmental management of offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas activities Commonwealth waters. Significant economic and social benefits will be derived from streamlining the relationship between these regimes by maximising regulatory efficiency while maintaining strong environmental safeguards for matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act. 1.2 Purpose of the Program Report The objective of this Program Report is to demonstrate how the Program will ensure activities are conducted in a manner consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development and will not result in unacceptable impacts to matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act. Specifically this report will: describe the Program that constitutes the policy, plan or program pursuant to Part 10 Strategic Assessments, Section 146 of the EPBC Act outline the commitments and undertakings of NOPSEMA to ensure adequate protection of Part 3 protected matters provide the basis for the Minister for the Environment to consider endorsing the Program under Section 146 of the EPBC Act provide the basis for the Minister for the Environment to consider approving the taking of an action or class of actions in accordance with the endorsed Program. 1 under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (OPGGS Act) and Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009 (OPGGS(E) Regulations) Page 7

8 1.3 Structure of the Program Report The report is structured in four parts: Part A introduces the Program Part B describes the Program that constitutes the policy, plan or program pursuant to section 146 of the EPBC Act. This includes the commitments and undertakings by NOPSEMA to ensure the adequate protection of matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act Part C details additional information that helps to clarify the functions of the Program with respect of Part 3 of the EPBC Act. It should be noted that the Strategic Assessment Report (provided separately) is a detailed evaluation of the Program against EPBC Act requirements, and describes an assessment of how the implementation of the Program will ensure the appropriate level of consideration and management of impacts on matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act Part D provides an overview of the Program evaluation, reporting and monitoring measures that will be in place to ensure the Program delivers ongoing consideration and management of impacts on matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act. 1.4 Terminology In this document, unless the contrary intention appears, words defined in the OPGGS Act and OPGGS(E) Regulations have the meaning given in the Act and those Regulations. 1.5 Program components The description of the Program in this report has been prepared to assist the Minister for the Environment to assess the Program and consider endorsing it and approving subsequent classes of actions under Section 146 provisions of the EPBC Act. The Program is based on the OPGGS Act and OPGGS(E) Regulations as they will operate when EPBC Act Section 146 approvals are in place. The environmental management authorisation process is embodied in the OPGGS Act, OPGGS(E) Regulations and NOPSEMA s non-legislative supporting policies and guidance. 1.6 Classes of actions covered under the Program The classes of actions covered under the Program include all offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas activities authorised under the OPGGS Act. The OPGGS Act authorises activities undertaken for, or as are necessary for, the following purposes: petroleum exploration petroleum recovery operations constructing or reconstructing an infrastructure facility constructing or reconstructing or operating a pipeline exploring for: a potential greenhouse gas storage formation or a potential greenhouse gas injection site carrying on operations to inject a substance into the seabed or subsoil of a Commonwealth offshore area. Classes of actions also include any decommissioning activities in relation to the above. Page 8

9 1.7 Protection of matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act The Program will ensure that impacts on matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act are not unacceptable. This is achieved through the following actions: The Program objectives are to ensure all offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas storage activities are carried out in a manner consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development, which is an objective of the EPBC Act. The Program assesses and subsequently accepts or refuses Environment Plans, which must include consideration of all relevant features of the environment, including, but not limited to, matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act. This applies to the environment outside Commonwealth waters including where the impacts of the activity extend to state or Northern Territory jurisdiction or to Commonwealth land. The Program is an objective-based regulatory framework, which ensures activities are carried out in accordance with an Environment Plan that has appropriate environmental performance outcomes and environmental performance standards. Environmental performance outcomes and environmental performance standards must take into account all relevant information, which includes, but is not limited to, management guidance and standards relevant to matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act. The Program ensures all impacts and risks are reduced to as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP), which depending on the circumstances, may provide protection to the environment beyond the acceptable level test. An ALARP objective allows titleholders to adopt environmental practices and technologies that are suited to individual circumstances, activities and locations, while taking into account costs and other factors to ensure a reasonable approach to environmental impact and risk improvements. The titleholder must show how impacts and risks will continue to be reduced to ALARP for the life of the activity. Demonstration of ALARP requires assessment of impacts and risks in the particular environmental context of the activity, which includes, but is not limited to, consideration of matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act. The Program ensures all impacts and risks are of an acceptable level, which includes consideration of impact on matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act. The Program ensures stakeholders, in particular those that are potentially affected by activities, are consulted and their input considered in the development of Environment Plans, including public notification and targeted engagement of relevant persons whose functions, interests or activities may be affected by the activity. The Program ensures large-scale developments are assessed and accepted or refused on a 'whole of lifecycle' basis, as well as on a 'phase by phase' basis of the development. Proponents will need to prepare and submit an Offshore Project Proposal that includes public notification and consultation, and consideration of stakeholder input into the development of the submission. The Program incorporates non-legislative policy and guidance, which provides advice to proponents and titleholders on recommended approaches to meeting Program requirements. This advice includes, but is not limited to, specific requirements relating to matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act. The Program includes compliance monitoring and enforcement functions, which allow NOPSEMA to ensure titleholders comply with the Program requirements on an ongoing basis, and that the Program itself meets the requirements of the EPBC Act endorsement and approval. NOPSEMA s administration of the Program will ensure that the Australian Government s outcomes in ensuring that matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act are being protected will be met. The matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act that are relevant to this strategic assessment and the Program s overarching commitment to environmental protection outcomes are outlined in the table below. Further detail of these matters and how the Program addresses them are set out at Part 8 and Appendix A. Page 9

10 Table 1: NOPSEMA s commitment to protection of matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act PART 3 MATTER PROTECTED World heritage values of declared World Heritage properties National heritage values of declared National Heritage places The ecological character of declared Ramsar wetlands Listed threatened species and ecological communities Listed migratory species The marine environment The environment on Commonwealth land OUTCOMES The outstanding universal value of world heritage properties will be identified, protected, conserved and transmitted to future generations. The outstanding value to the nation of national heritage places will be protected, conserved and transmitted to future generations of Australians. The ecological character of each Ramsar wetland will be maintained, and the conservation use of each wetland will be promoted for the benefit of humanity in a way that is compatible with maintenance of the natural properties of the ecosystem. The survival and conservation status of listed threatened species and ecological communities will be promoted and enhanced, including through the conservation of critical habitat and other measures contained in any recovery plans, threat abatement plans or conservation advices. The survival and conservation status of listed migratory species and their critical habitat will be promoted and enhanced. The ecosystem functioning and integrity of Commonwealth marine areas will be maintained and protected in conformity with relevant marine bioregional plans and plans of management for relevant marine reserves. The environment on Commonwealth land will be maintained and protected in full conformity with relevant plans of management. Page 10

11 PART B: THE PROGRAM The Program comprises the environmental management authorisation process for offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas activities in accordance with the OPGGS Act and OPGGS(E) Regulations. The Program is supported by comprehensive non-legislative regulatory policy and guidance, which are amended from time to time. This Program details the activities (classes of actions) that are subject to environmental management authorisation process of the OPGGS Act and OPGGS(E) Regulations. This Program constitutes the policy, plan or program pursuant to section 146 of the EPBC Act. 2 Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act OPGGS Act object and outline The object of the OPGGS Act is to provide an effective regulatory framework for petroleum exploration and recovery, and the injection and storage of greenhouse gas substances in offshore areas. The Program includes activities authorised by titles, permits and licences under the OPGGS Act in Commonwealth waters (those areas more than three nautical miles from the Territorial sea baseline and within the Commonwealth Petroleum Jurisdiction Boundary), as well as petroleum activities in state or Northern Territory designated coastal waters where environmental management functions have been conferred under legislation (see Figure below). The OPGGS Act is supported by regulations covering matters such as safety, diving, petroleum resource management and environmental management. Figure 1: Map of Australia showing the offshore areas covered under the OPGGS Act Petroleum activities are prohibited in certain marine reserves such as International Union for the Conservation of Nature categories I, II and IV zones, and would not be authorised under the OPGGS Act. Construction and maintenance of pipelines may be authorised in IUCN category IV zones. Page 11

12 The OPGGS Act sets up a system for regulating petroleum and greenhouse gas activities in Commonwealth waters including exploration for and recovery of petroleum, construction and operation of infrastructure facilities relating to petroleum or greenhouse gas substances, construction and operation of pipelines for conveying petroleum or greenhouse gas substances, exploration for potential greenhouse gas storage formations, and injection and storage of greenhouse gas substances. The OPGGS Act provides for the grant of a range of petroleum and greenhouse gas titles, for example a petroleum exploration permit, petroleum retention lease, petroleum production licence, infrastructure licence, pipeline licence, greenhouse gas assessment permit, greenhouse gas holding lease and greenhouse gas injection licence. The OPGGS Act establishes NOPSEMA as the Commonwealth Statutory Agency responsible for the administration of health and safety, structural integrity, and environmental management of all offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas storage activities. 2.2 Role of NOPSEMA NOPSEMA is the regulator of environmental management law under the Commonwealth offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas legislation, which includes the OPGGS Act and the OPGGS(E) Regulations. Specifically NOPSEMA: develops and implements effective monitoring and enforcement strategies to ensure compliance under environmental management law investigates accidents, occurrences and circumstances with regard to deficiencies in environmental management monitors environmental incidents and reports investigations to the responsible Commonwealth Minister and state and Northern Territory ministers assesses Environment Plans, including associated oil pollution emergency plans provides advice to persons on matters relating to environmental management provides information, assessments, analysis, reports, advice and recommendations to the responsible Commonwealth Minister on petroleum and greenhouse gas activities provides contracts for related services on a cost recovery basis for state/northern Territory governments and foreign governments. NOPSEMA operates on a full cost recovery basis provided for under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Regulatory Levies) Act 2003 and the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Regulatory Levies) Regulations Assessment and compliance of Environment Plans is funded through Environment Plan levies, collected from titleholders on submission of an Environment Plan to NOPSEMA under the OPGGS(E) Regulations, and via a fee-for-service for the assessment of Offshore Project Proposals. 2.3 Environmental management under the OPGGS Act In addition to establishing the regulatory regime for environmental management authorisation, the OPGGS Act has other relevant powers, detailed below. The OPGGS Act requires that an activity in an offshore area under a permit, lease, authority or consent must be undertaken in a manner that does not interfere with: navigation fishing conservation of the resources of the sea and seabed any activities of another person being lawfully carried on by way of: o exploration for, recovery of or conveyance of a mineral Page 12

13 o construction or operation of a pipeline the enjoyment of native title rights and interests. The OPGGS Act requires operations to be carried out in accordance with good oilfield practice (all those things that are generally accepted as good and safe in carrying out of exploration for petroleum and petroleum recovery operations) and includes specific provisions addressing the prevention of the escape of petroleum and any mixture of water or drilling fluid with petroleum. The OPGGS Act requires titleholders, in the event of an escape of petroleum to eliminate or control the escape, clean up the escaped petroleum and remediate any resulting damage to the environment, and carry out environmental monitoring of the impact of the escape on the environment. If the titleholder fails to do any of these things, NOPSEMA or the responsible Commonwealth Minister may do them instead. The titleholder must reimburse NOPSEMA or the Commonwealth for the costs and expenses of any such action. The OPGGS Act provides for NOPSEMA (or the responsible Commonwealth Minister) to give written directions to titleholders covering all aspects of petroleum exploration and production including compliance with regulations made under the OPGGS Act. The OPGGS Act provides similar direction giving ability for greenhouse gas activities. The OPGGS Act further provides for remedial directions by NOPSEMA with regard to the restoration of the environment for the following matters: the removal of property, plugging or closing off of wells, conservation and protection of natural resources, and the making good of damage to the seabed or subsoil on current or former titleholders. The OPGGS Act requires a titleholder to maintain in good condition and repair all structures that are, and all equipment and other property that is, in the title area and used in connection with the operations authorised by the permit, lease, licence or authority. 3 OPGGS (Environment) Regulations environmental management authorisation process The OPGGS(E) Regulations have been made under the OPGGS Act and provide an objective-based regime for the management of environmental performance for Australian offshore petroleum exploration and production and greenhouse gas storage activities in areas of Commonwealth jurisdiction. An objective-based regulatory approach is described further in Section 3.1. The OPGGS(E) Regulations have the objective of ensuring any activity is carried out: in a manner consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development in a manner in which the environmental impacts and risks of the activity will be reduced to as low as reasonably practicable in a manner in which the impacts and risks will be of an acceptable level. The OPGGS(E) Regulations are comprised of five parts: Part 1 details the objects, definitions, other administrative elements, and requirements for Offshore Project Proposals Part 2 details the requirements for Environment Plans Part 3 describes the requirements for notification of reportable and recordable incidents, and storage and accessibility of records Part 4 covers various miscellaneous regulations, including the requirements for titleholders of activities, and other procedural matters Part 5 details transitional arrangements. Page 13

14 Under Part 1A and Part 2, the Program comprises two environmental assessment options; an Offshore Project Proposal and associated Environment Plan(s) or, an Environment Plan. For development-type projects, the Program requires submission of an Offshore Project Proposal to NOPSEMA for assessment. The Proposal must be accepted by NOPSEMA prior to the submission of any related Environment Plan(s). Titleholders are required to submit an Environment Plan for assessment to NOPSEMA prior to commencing any offshore petroleum or greenhouse gas activity. The activity must not commence if NOPSEMA has not accepted the Environment Plan. The Program requires proponents of an offshore project to submit an Offshore Project Proposal to NOPSEMA for assessment on a 'whole of lifecycle' basis. The Offshore Project Proposal must include details of the project, environmental impacts and risks, environmental performance outcomes and a description of potential alternatives for the project. The Offshore Project Proposal, which will include public consultation, is accepted or refused by NOPSEMA. An accepted Offshore Project Proposal must be in place prior to submission and assessment of individual Environment Plans for the component activities. All petroleum and greenhouse gas storage activities, even where they are not likely to have an impact on a matter protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act, require an Environment Plan accepted by NOPSEMA to proceed. Titleholders may elect to prepare and submit an Offshore Project Proposal for a petroleum or greenhouse gas storage activity that is not part of a development project. NOPSEMA guidance will outline circumstances in which a titleholder may elect to submit an Offshore Project Proposal for these activities. The guidance will refer to consideration of potential impacts on matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act and outline consultation requirements under the OPGGS(E) Regulations. The options available to a titleholder for different activities are depicted in Figure 2 (below). Both Offshore Project Proposals and Environment Plans must identify and assess the potential impacts to matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act as well as the broader environment. Offshore Project Proposals are subject to public consultation, and Environment Plans must demonstrate that appropriate consultation with persons or organisations whose functions, interests or activities could be impacted by the proposed petroleum or greenhouse gas activity has been undertaken. The OPGGS(E) Regulations outline the requirements for Environment Plans, particularly that it is an offence for a titleholder to: commence an activity without an Environment Plan in force for the activity, that is, an Environment Plan for the activity which has been accepted by NOPSEMA carry out an activity in a way contrary to the Environment Plan in force for the activity continue an activity if new or increased environmental risk is identified, and this new or increased risk is not provided for in the the Environment Plan in force for the activity. An Environment Plan submitted to NOPSEMA for assessment must meet the acceptance criteria detailed in the OPGGS(E) Regulations for acceptance. If NOPSEMA is not reasonably satisfied that an Environment Plan meets the acceptance criteria when first submitted, NOPSEMA cannot accept the Plan and must give the titleholder a reasonable opportunity to modify and resubmit the Plan. If, after the titleholder has had a reasonable opportunity to modify and resubmit the Environment Plan, NOPSEMA is still not reasonably satisfied that the Plan meets the acceptance criteria of the OPGGS(E) Regulations, NOPSEMA must refuse to accept the Plan. An accepted Environment Plan will establish the legally binding environment management conditions that must be met by the titleholder and against which the regulator can secure compliance. A failure to comply with an accepted Environment Plan is an offence, and also provides grounds upon which NOPSEMA can withdraw its acceptance of an Environment Plan. Page 14

15 An Environment Plan must include: a description of the activity a description of the environment that may be affected by the activity. The environment, defined broadly, includes ecosystems, natural and physical resources, and heritage values of places, and must consider EPBC Act Part 3 matters an assessment of the environmental impacts and risks of the activity proposed environmental performance outcomes, environmental performance standards and measurement criteria an implementation strategy for ensuring the outcomes and standards are met a statement of the titleholder s corporate environmental policy a report on consultation with relevant persons details of the reporting of all reportable incidents in relation to the proposed activity. Offshore Project Proposals and Environment Plans must comply with all the requirements of the OPGGS Act and OPGGS(E) Regulations, including the commitments and undertakings in this Program for EPBC Act Part 3 matters. Page 15

16 Figure 2: The Program s environmental assessment process Page 16

17 3.1 Objective-based regulation The Program is an objective-based regulatory regime. This means that the regulation does not prescribe specific processes, standards or procedures, but rather, regulates through the achievement of environmental objectives. Proponents are able to determine how objectives are to be achieved by adopting the approach best suited to the particular circumstances, within the parameters of the OPGGS(E) Regulations, which stipulate that: broad environmental objectives or outcomes be established an Offshore Project Proposal be developed to provide an early examination of environmental impacts and risks where the proposal is related to production, or the titleholder seeks to have other activities subject to this process titleholders are to provide an Environment Plan that demonstrates how they will achieve those objectives by proposing management arrangements and by providing evidence of how the application of these arrangements will achieve the environmental objectives NOPSEMA can accept an Environment Plan only where it meets certain acceptance criteria that align with environmental objectives. Acceptance criteria include demonstrating that environmental impacts and risks of the activity are of an acceptable level and that appropriate measurable environmental performance outcomes and environmental performance standards are set. Objective-based regulation is consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development and establishes a framework in which titleholders are required to set out how they propose to undertake an activity. The primary objective is to ensure that environmental impacts and risks of the activity are reduced to as low as reasonably practicable and are of an acceptable level. Under an objective-based regime, individual titleholders adopt environmental management practices and technologies best suited to individual circumstances, activities and locations, subject to demonstrating that environmental performance outcomes and environmental performance standards will be met. Objective-based regulation provides a legislative framework with the following benefits: consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development provides for assessment of all environmental impacts and risks on a project specific basis minimises environmental impacts and risks for approved proposals encourages adoption of best practice environmental management systems and continuous improvement in all aspects of a titleholder's environmental performance reduces industry costs by allowing timely adoption of improved practices and technologies reduces government costs by eliminating the need for changes to regulations to meet rapidly changing industry practices and technology provides transparent and accountable acceptance and compliance processes. Comprehensive advice to support the OPGGS(E) Regulations, which outlines NOPSEMA s administrative approach is available to assist industry in complying with the OPGGS(E) Regulations. 3.2 Key terms and definitions Activity A petroleum activity is any operations or works in an offshore area carried out for the purpose of exercising a right conferred on a petroleum titleholder under the OPGGS Act by a petroleum title, or discharging an obligation imposed on a petroleum titleholder by the OPGGS Act or a legislative instrument under the OPGGS Act. Page 17

18 Examples of petroleum activities include: seismic surveys drilling construction and installation of a facility operation of a facility significant modification of a facility decommissioning, dismantling or removing a facility construction and installation of a petroleum pipeline operation of a petroleum pipeline significant modification of a petroleum pipeline decommissioning, dismantling or removing a petroleum pipeline. A greenhouse gas activity is any operations or works in an offshore area carried out under a greenhouse gas title, other authority or consent under the OPGGS Act or OPGGS(E) Regulations and any activity relating to greenhouse gas exploration, injection or storage that may have an impact on the environment. Greenhouse gas activities include: seismic surveys drilling construction and installation of a facility operation of a facility significant modification of a facility decommissioning, dismantling or removing a facility construction and installation of a greenhouse gas pipeline operation of a greenhouse gas pipeline significant modification of a greenhouse gas pipeline decommissioning, dismantling or removing a greenhouse gas pipeline injection and storage of greenhouse gas Title and titleholder A title is an authority granted by an instrument under the OPGGS Act for the carrying out of an offshore petroleum or greenhouse gas activity (i.e. permit, licence, authority, and lease). The titleholder is the registered person who holds the authority for carrying out an activity (i.e. a permit or licence). Titleholder means a petroleum titleholder or greenhouse gas titleholder under the Program. The titleholder is responsible for ensuring their activities are planned and carried out in a way that does not result in unacceptable impacts on matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act Principles of ecologically sustainable development One object of the OPGGS(E) Regulations is to ensure that any petroleum activity or greenhouse gas storage activity in an offshore area is carried out in a manner consistent with the 'principles of ecologically sustainable development', as set out in the EPBC Act. The OPGGS(E) Regulations do not define principles of ecologically sustainable development, but in the EPBC Act they encompass the following tenets: Page 18

19 (a) decision-making processes should effectively integrate both long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equitable considerations (b) if there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation (c) the principle of inter-generational equity--that the present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment is maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations (d) the conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity should be a fundamental consideration in decision-making (e) improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms should be promoted Environment The OPGGS(E) Regulations define environment as ecosystems and their constituent parts, including people and communities; natural and physical resources; the qualities and characteristics of locations, places and areas; the heritage value of places; and includes the social, economic and cultural features of these matters. Note that this definition was clarified and made consistent with the definition of environment under the EPBC Act as a result of a 2005 regulatory amendment. The definition of environment incorporated in the Program encompasses all aspects of the environment including, but not limited to, EPBC Act Part 3 protected matters. As a result, all Program functions relating to protection of the environment apply for EPBC Act Part 3 matters Environmental performance outcomes Environmental performance outcomes means measurable performance targets set for the management of the environmental aspects of an activity to ensure that environmental impacts and risks will be of an acceptable level. This requirement ensures that titleholders are aware that they must set clear, measurable goals for their environmental performance, which can be monitored to determine if those outcomes are being met. In developing environmental performance outcomes, titleholders must consider the existing environment which includes, but is not limited to, EPBC Act Part 3 protected matters. Titleholders must also address legislative and other controls that manage environmental features of the activity, which includes, but is not limited to, management guidance and standards relevant to EPBC Act Part 3 protected matters Environmental performance standards and control measures An environmental performance standard is a statement of performance required of a control measure. A control measure is a system, an item of equipment, a person or a procedure that is used as a basis for managing environmental risk for the duration of the activity. As with environmental performance outcomes, when developing environmental performance standards and control measures, titleholders must consider the existing environment which includes, but is not limited to, EPBC Act Part 3 matters. Titleholders must also address legislative and other controls that manage environmental features of the activity, which include, but are not limited to, management guidance and standards relevant to EPBC Act Part 3 matters. 4 Offshore Project Proposal The Program requires proponents of an offshore project to submit an Offshore Project Proposal to NOPSEMA for assessment. An accepted Offshore Project Proposal must be in place prior to submission and assessment of Environment Plans for the individual component activities. Page 19

20 An offshore petroleum or greenhouse gas project 2 consists of one or more of the following: construction of facilities or pipelines operation of facilities or pipelines recovery of petroleum other than on an appraisal basis injection of greenhouse gas permanent storage of greenhouse gas. The purpose of an Offshore Project Proposal is to: provide the public with an opportunity to review and provide input during the development of environmental management strategies for offshore petroleum or greenhouse gas development projects provide the proponent with the opportunity to develop a comprehensive list of relevant persons for consultation during the subsequent Environment Plan process allow NOPSEMA to make an assessment of the acceptability of proposed offshore petroleum or greenhouse gas development projects. 4.1 Offshore Project Proposal submission A proponent proposing to undertake an offshore petroleum or greenhouse gas project must submit an Offshore Project Proposal to NOPSEMA for public comment and assessment. To be accepted, Offshore Project Proposals must comply with all the regulatory requirements of the Offshore Project Proposal process, including the public consultation components. 4.2 Offshore Project Proposal content The Program specifies the following content requirements for an Offshore Project Proposal: details of the offshore project proponent a summary of the project, including: a description of each of the activities that will be carried out for the project the location or locations of the activities a description of the facilities proposed to be used to carry out the activities proposed timetables for carrying out the activities description of the existing environment that may be affected by the project details of the particular relevant values and sensitivities of that environment, including relevant matters protected under Part 3 of the EPBC Act details of the environmental impacts and risks for the project an evaluation of all the impacts and risks environmental performance outcomes for the activities that will be carried out for the project description of the legislative and other requirements that apply to the project and are relevant to the environmental management of the project description of feasible alternatives to the activities that will be carried out for the project. 2 The OPGGS(E) Regulations identify the activities that require an Offshore Project Proposal. The OPGGS(E) Regulations will include greenhouse gas injection and permanent storage activities in this definition prior to approval of that class of action (or those classes of actions) by the Minister for the Environment in accordance with the Program. Page 20

21 4.3 Offshore Project Proposal public consultation Under the Program, NOPSEMA will determine that the Offshore Project Proposal is suitable for public comment if the proposal: appropriately identifies and evaluates the environmental impacts and risks for the project includes information sufficient to enable persons to make an informed assessment of whether the environmental impacts and risks of the project will be appropriately managed contains environmental performance outcomes that are consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development and are relevant to the identified environmental impacts and risks for the project In the Offshore Project Proposal process, formal consultation for a statutory minimum of four weeks occurs during the public comment period and relevant documentation is made available on NOPSEMA s website. NOPSEMA advice material indicates that proponents, as part of good industry practice, should also undertake early consultation with stakeholders in the preparation of an Offshore Project Proposal and in the lead up to the mandatory public comment period. This consultation should inform the identification of environmental sensitivities, impacts and risks and the development of environmental performance outcomes for the project. 4.4 Offshore Project Proposal revision Following the period of public comment, the proponent must revise the Offshore Project Proposal to include: a summary of all public comments received an assessment of the merits of any objection or claim about adverse impacts of the project a statement of the proponent's response to any objection or claim, including a description of what changes, if any, have been made to the project. The revision is then submitted to NOPSEMA for assessment. 4.5 Offshore Project Proposal assessment and acceptance process The Program stipulates that the following regulatory requirements be met for an Offshore Project Proposal to be accepted: the Offshore Project Proposal meets the content requirements of the OPGGS(E) Regulations and contains sufficient information to allow the public to make meaningful comment issues raised during the public comment period have been adequately addressed the Offshore Project Proposal meets the acceptance criteria of the OPGGS(E) Regulations. NOPSEMA must accept the Offshore Project Proposal if it: adequately addresses comments given during the period for public comment; and is appropriate for the nature and scale of the project; and appropriately identifies and evaluates the environmental impacts and risks for the project; and does not involve an activity or part of an activity being conducted in any part of a declared World Heritage property within the meaning of the EPBC Act; and contains appropriate environmental performance outcomes. If on resubmission, the Offshore Project Proposal does not meet the criteria specified above, NOPSEMA may request further written information about any matters to be included in the Offshore Project Proposal. If after the submission of Page 21

22 further written information, the acceptance criteria are still not met, NOPSEMA must refuse to accept the Offshore Project Proposal. Upon acceptance of the revised Offshore Project Proposal it is published on NOPSEMA s website. Should NOPSEMA refuse to accept the Offshore Project Proposal, a notification and a statement of the refusal is published Appropriate to the nature and scale of the project All aspects of the Offshore Project Proposal must be appropriate to the nature and scale of the project, while meeting all the requirements of the OPGGS(E) Regulations. General requirements for an Offshore Project Proposal are relative to the sensitivity of the receiving environment and also to the project s size, complexity, environmental impacts and risks. The Offshore Project Proposal must describe the existing environment that may be affected by the project, including details of the particular relevant values and sensitivities (if any) of that environment, including other relevant activities, and potential cumulative impacts and risks over the short and longer term Identification and evaluation of impacts and risk The Offshore Project Proposal must describe and evaluate the environmental impacts and risks for the project. This requires identification of the relevant environmental values and sensitivities, which, under the Program, includes, but is not limited to, EPBC Act Part 3 matters. The evaluation must include all of the impacts and risks arising directly or indirectly from all future activities and potential emergency conditions Appropriate environmental performance outcomes The Offshore Project Proposal defines the environmental performance outcomes to be achieved to protect the environment and to ensure that the impacts and risks arising from the project and activities to be undertaken as part of the project will be managed to an acceptable level Activity not proposed to take place in a declared World Heritage property The Offshore Project Proposal cannot propose an activity, or part of an activity, that is to be undertaken within a declared World Heritage property within the meaning of the EPBC Act Adequately addresses public comments In the course of preparing the Offshore Project Proposal, the proponent must publish the Offshore Project Proposal for public comment for a minimum of four weeks. The revised Offshore Project Proposal must demonstrate that all public submissions have been adequately addressed, and that any appropriate management or other measure resulting from the public comment has been considered and adopted. If an Offshore Project Proposal is submitted to NOPSEMA that does not meet the acceptance criteria for an Offshore Project Proposal, NOPSEMA must refuse to accept the Offshore Project Proposal. Unless there is an accepted Offshore Project Proposal for a project, a titleholder cannot submit an Environment Plan for the related activities to NOPSEMA for assessment and those activities cannot commence. Page 22

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